Colleges explore strategies to help more students complete their education

TORONTO, May 18 /CNW/ - Experts from Ontario's 24 public colleges are gathered at a Toronto conference today to explore strategies to reduce the drop-out rate and help more students complete their college education.

"Students who enter college must get support to successfully complete their education," said Anne Sado, president of George Brown College and chair of the colleges' committee of presidents. "This is a priority for every college in Ontario, as the province needs greater numbers of college graduates to strengthen the economy."

The two-day conference, Student Retention: a College-wide Imperative, opened today at the Hilton hotel in downtown Toronto. Speakers at the conference include MP Bob Rae and strategic enrolment expert Jim Black, of SEM Works in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Increasing the graduation rate at colleges and universities is a priority in Ontario. In its throne speech earlier this year, the Ontario government pledged to increase the postsecondary attainment rate to 70 per cent from the current 62 per cent.

The Student Retention conference, organized by Colleges Ontario, includes expert national and international speakers, interactive sessions, and showcases best practices and team approaches to supporting students.

Sado said there are many issues that need to be addressed, including some issues around how graduation rates are measured. One of the presenters, Prof. Ross Finnie of the University of Ottawa, will present research that shows that many students who are categorized as "drop outs" have actually transferred to other postsecondary institutions or found full-time careers.

"We need a better method for tracking individual student progress," Sado said. "The better our information is, the better our efforts will be at targeting key issues."

Colleges Ontario is the voice of Ontario's 24 colleges of applied arts and technology. Ontario colleges serve about 200 communities throughout the province, delivering a wide range of career-focused education and training programs to more than 200,000 full-time and 300,000 part-time students and clients.

SOURCE Colleges Ontario

For further information: For further information: Sally Ritchie, Senior Communications Officer, Colleges Ontario, (416) 471-2194 (Cell), (416) 596-0744 ext. 242 (Office)

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